This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Esther Grace Earl was only 16 years old when she lost her battle with thyroid cancer in 2010. She never wanted to be anything other than a writer, and she was one her way to being a great one. Her parents, Wayne and Lori Earl, along with Esther's four siblings, friends, and the medical team who worked with her, created this book to preserve Esther's one-of-a-kind writings and drawings. Esther's kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness, and love shine through the words and images she left behind.
Not only did she love her family and friends deeply, but she also cared about doing something good for the world and helping people she never met. She had a strong faith in God that helped her get through the worst of her chemotherapy and the breathing problems she had related to her cancer.
Esther loved Harry Potter, Dr. Who, her cats Blueberry and Pancake, and John and Hank Green's Vlog Brothers videos, and she never forgot to be awesome. She was an amazing person, so it's a wonderful thing that her voice is still able to be shared with the world. The media have an unfortunate tendency to dismiss and belittle things that are geared toward teens, and especially teenage girls, and it can be hard for a teen girl's genuine voice to be heard - all the more reason to listen to Esther in her own words.
John Green was already working on The Fault In Our Stars when he met Esther. She served as an inspiration for the fictional Hazel Grace Lancaster - note they share a middle name - but Green was very careful to see Esther as a person, a friend, and not some kind of research project. He's a good human being like that.
Sometimes this book made me want to cry, but that's okay. It's okay to miss someone's presence from the world when that presence so clearly made the world a better place. It's too bad that we'll never know the answer to the riddle Esther wrote into the fantasy story she started, but what she did leave behind was a legacy of awesome.
I do wish she would've been able to finish her romantic comedy story, though. It had some really nice elements, even in its raw state. Shades of The Devil Wears Prada, but with a clear romance bent.
Please, if you know of any other books like this one - memories of a kid who left the world too soon - recommend them to me. I think a book like this is an ideal tribute to a creative young person who is, sadly, no longer with us. Their spirits live on in the art they left behind and the way they made other people feel.
I've also started following http://tswgo.tumblr.com/. It's the Tumblr page of the organization founded in Esther's name that helps the families of children with cancer. Great organization. Check it out.
I purchased This Star Won't Go Out with my own funds at a brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble. I was not obligated to write this review in any way.
View all my reviews on Goodreads